Ali is my “nomad friend”. I lovingly refer to her as that, because up until about a year ago, she had no fixed address. She moved around taking on really cool short-term jobs, making connections and friends everywhere she went. Because it’s hard not to love Ali.
Ali is the complete opposite of me. I’m timid, she’s adventurous. I play it safe, she does backflips off of swings. I buy sandals from Payless, she makes them out of cardboard and duct tape. No really, she does. And they look awesome.
Five years ago, Ali said to me “let’s go to Costa Rica and stay in hostels”. I laughed at her. Did she know who she was talking to?
“Get out of your comfort zone,” she said to me.
Why in the world would I do that? I like my comfort zone. It’s comfy. I know what to do in it, I know how things work.
Then Ali explained comfort zone in a way I hadn’t heard before.
She explained that the comfort zone is like the bullseye. Wrapped around the comfort zone is the growth zone. Each time you step into your growth zone, your comfort zone gets a little bigger. Beyond the growth zone is the panic zone. Spending time in your growth zone helps you identify what falls over into panic zone. The growth zone is the sweet spot between comfort and panic.
I’d never heard of the growth zone before. I thought the outside of my comfort zone was my panic zone. I didn’t really think that there’d be somewhere in between.
That convinced me. A month later, we were on a plane to Costa Rica. And in Costa Rica, I definitely grew.
In one week, I ziplined through the rainforest, rode horses, hiked through a mountain while monkeys played in trees, slept in a room with 6 strangers, shared a bathroom with 6 strangers, watched a volcano “erupt”, drank beer with people from Washington, Brazil and the Yukon, spent a day in La Fortuna by myself while Ali went white water rafting (that was well into my panic zone!), and almost got bitten by a wild turkey.
Since then, Ali and I have gone on a few adventures. Each time when I insist on making the safe choice, she reminds me to get into my growth zone.
Whether that’s ziplining in Costa Rica, mountain biking in Jasper, or taking ridiculous pictures in Thunder Bay. I’m grateful for a friend that pushes me to choose butterflies.